Sunday, February 24, 2008

Sri Jagath Guru Chandrasekarendar Saraswathy Swamigal - 1956

It was a moment in unsung history when the Mahaperivar of Kanchipuram granted Aritst Silpi an audience, a moment that the artist had waited for over a month foregoing his work; it was a moment that changed the life of Artist completely.

In the late hours of the night, after the entire world had sunk into deep slumber, a dialog commenced between two people. One was a revered saint, loved and respected by all and the other was an artist, talented but unsung. Within the sacred room, in the light of an oil lamp, the bright and clear eyes of the saint lit up as he whispered the truth to the painter.

He said, “You have lived many lives, and in all of them you have worshipped the Lord sincerely. You have been a Sthapathi at various temples in your past lives where you have sculpted various forms of the Divine. This is your last birth. Do not dilute this sacred skill anymore. Take a vow that you shall paint the form of the divine alone hence forth. Your talent is divine, you are blessed, and you are already aware of the sciences of the Shila Shastra and Samudrika Lakshanam, you need no more education. Go into the world again, at sunrise tomorrow, with a goal to bring the divine into every home, through your paintings.”

The artist took leave and went across the land, to the remotest temples across the country to capture the very form of the Divine into his canvas. It was not an easy task that lay ahead, for the restrictions were tough, and only the orthodox and pure hearted could perform such a miraculous feet. He was told, "You shall not use your imagination, you shall not change anything that you see within the shrine chambers, you shall follow the law of Shilpa Shastra, and you shall capture the character of the Divine in various forms as described in the Samudrika Lakshanam. You shall not use extra lights, you shall work within the limited lamps lit within the chamber, and capture the changing swarupa(features) of the Divine as you meditate through the experience of painting. In this way, you shall capture the power of the Divine within the shrine chamber into your painting, the secret of which shall be expressed through the strokes of your brush."

The artist did as told, and started a whole new life dedicated to the Lord, to his Guru, his guide who blessed his every breath through the rest of his life.

Artist Silpi, was a family man, and his wife was a staunch devotee of the Paramacharya. As age took over, she was unable to visit the saint at the Kanchi Matt and seek His divine blessings. She requested her husband to go and capture the essence of the Paramacharya in his painting and make a portrait that she could worship at home for the rest of her life.

In the year 1956, Artist Silpi made another visit to the Saint to capture His portrait, for his wife. It was a difficult proposition as the Saint did anything but co-operate. He moved around, to make it extremely difficult for the artist, testing his devotion and his patience to capture His being. When it finally ended, the painter held a master piece in his hand. An expression of devotion, one that captured every finger and toe that the Saint otherwise hid, one that even captured the divine light the enveloped the form of the Saint.

It was a true masterpiece. Within the color the Saint stares on, the clarity in His eyes so beautifully captured, the vivla leaves still so fresh, the divine glow of spiritualism in His being which no photograph could ever catch. The only lamp that lit the room lay at His feet, a light that lit up so much of his Divine form, this celebrated Saint has never been captured such. Within the chamber where he posed and watched an artist paint, He blessed this work by granting us a vision of His divine presence for the world to feel, to imbibe. Kanchi Mahaperivar Sri Jagath Guru Chandrasekarendar Saraswathy Swamigal lives on in the painting of Artist Silpi.

For further information on this picture, please contact me through email.

Photo courtesy: Mr.Mahalimgam, son of Artist Silpi
© Silpi, these pictures should not be reproduced on the internet.